Author: Brie Spangler
Reading Level: Young Adult
Genres: Humorous | GLBT | Contemporary
Release Date: October 11, 2016
Review Source: Random House Children's Books
BEAST is a witty, wise, and heart-wrenching novel that will appeal to fans of books by Rainbow Rowell and David Levithan.
Tall, meaty, muscle-bound, and hairier than most throw rugs, Dylan doesn't look like your average fifteen-year-old. Naturally, high school has not been kind to him. To make matters worse, on the day his school bans hats (his chosen camouflage), Dylan goes up on his roof, only to fall and wake up in the hospital with a broken leg, sentenced to group therapy for self-harmers.
Dylan vows to say nothing and zones out at group. That is until he meets Jamie. She's funny, smart, and so stunning, even his womanizing best friend JP would be jealous. She's also the first person to ever call Dylan out on his self-pitying and superficiality. As Jamie's humanity and wisdom begin to rub off on Dylan, they become more than just friends. But, there is something Dylan doesn't know about Jamie, something she shared with group the day he wasn't listening, something that shouldn't change a thing. She is who she's always been--an amazing photographer and devoted friend, who also happens to be transgender. But, will Dylan see it that way?
BEAST has been hailed by Kirkus as “a believable and beautiful human story.”
Beast follows the story of 15 year-old Dylan. He’s over 6 foot 5 inches, extremely hairy, and overall intimidating to look at. He’s had a lifelong struggle with his confidence and finding a girl who thinks he’s remotely attractive. Although, he has been able to avoid the bullying scene for the most part thanks to his popular best friend since early childhood, along with his genius. That, and his worrisome mother who spends her days reassuring him of his wonderfulness.
Pretty early in on his story, Dylan experiences a leg injury. Through discussion, he can’t discern if the injury was really an accident or self-perpetrated. He gets put into a therapy group for self-harmers. Only promises himself one session because he refuses to believe therapy may be something he actually needs. Through this session, he meets Jamie. A girl he can’t seem to wrap his mind around. He is completely enthralled. However, he learns some revolutionary news that may just change his whole outlook on her and his feelings toward her. I’m trying to avoid spoilers!
Overall, their relationship has many ups and downs and I had to remind myself these characters are only sophomores in high school. For the character’s age ranges, they are discussing very relevant, complex, and mature material. It’s is definitely interesting to read and try to understand Dylan’s inner dialogue.
Other conflicts in the book include Dylan’s relationship with his very much dead father, his closeness to his mother, and the realization that his friendship with JP may not be what he always thought it to be. There are different plots and relationships to follow and I feel there can be a situation for everyone to relate to.
I enjoyed the book thoroughly. However, Jamie and Dylan’s storyline had a lot of push-and-pull involved that could come to be a little exhausting at times. And Dylan could be hard character to love. As a reader, you are able to get a grip on each one of the characters and their personality so it does become hard to not love them and be empathetic for their struggle.
About the author:
After graduating from RISD, I was fortunate to work as a freelance illustrator for several years and built up a great client list. Grosset & Dunlap, Crayola, Stride Rite, Yearling, Dole and several others were wonderful to work with, but working with Knopf was truly awesome because it led to the publication of my two picture books, Peg Leg Peke and The Grumpy Dump Truck. I'm very proud of those two books.
Since taking time off to begin a family, I'm excited to be back in the field and ready to make new work. Represented by Mackenzie Brady of New Leaf Literary.
BEAST pre-order campaign is still GO! Send proof of purchase screenshot & enter to win cool prizes like a drawing of Dylan & Jamie from me! pic.twitter.com/aGTMJvKUKn— Brie Spangler (@BrieSpangler) October 5, 2016